Tarragon vinegar is familiar to most cooks and is actually quite easy to make. Pack a glass jar with fresh tarragon leaves and cover it with white vinegar. Let I sit in a sunny place for a couple of weeks, then strain. Sore in a glass jar or vinegar cruet. Makes a tasty salad dressing or for use in any recipe calling for vinegar.
The tarragon plant does best in full sun. Get it going by planting a young plant in the late spring. It spreads through its roots (runners) underground. These can be divided in the spring to propagate additional plants and should be done every 2-3 years to keep the plant healthy. It is fairly hardy but should be protected in colder climates with a layer of mulch. The stems will dry in the fall and it appears dead but in the spring it will sprout from the ground and return to life.
Tarragon has a long history of use. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians used it to treat dragon bites. Perhaps scorpions? Hence the species name dracunculus which means little dragon. Fresh leaves of French tarragon are said to temporarily numb the tongue. Doctors often gave patients this remedy when a vile tasting medicine was to follow. Does it work? We decided to give it a try and to our amazement we did feel some tingly, numbing sensations. Surprisingly, it lasted for well over a minute, even after some rinsing with water.
Tarragon is primarily a culinary herb. It may have some use as a mouthwash, perhaps because of its numbing effect and refreshing flavor. Other medicinal, cosmetic or household uses were not found. As to why tarragon is in the Artemisia family, will require additional research and will be left for another time, perhaps with more about Artemisias in general, a very interesting group of plants.